Roster crunch: The case against Daniel Nava


Apr 2, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Daniel Nava (29) singles in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

With Shane Victorino set to begin a rehab assignment on Saturday, the Boston Red Sox outfield is due for a shakeup. The glut of outfielders includes Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp. While Sizemore looks settled in center field, the rest is up for debate. This is the second in a series of articles. Previously: Jackie Bradley Jr.

Daniel Nava

Positions: All outfield positions, though center field would be in an emergency. He started one game there last year and made an error, but had reps in Spring Training this year. Started learning first base last season — eight starts last year, two so far this year.

Skill Set:

• Terrible at the plate in 2014 (.137 BA, .516 OPS)
• Has decent power — 12 homers last year, two this year
• Generally, an on-base machine (.385 OBP last season, .362 career)
• Solid outfield arm, nothing to be scared of but keeps people honest
• Reliable glove

Contract: 1yr/$556k, Arbitration Eligible: 2015

Minor League Options: Yes

The Case Against: For a working class city like Boston, Daniel Nava is the kind of player fans like to root for. He came from the independent leagues and worked his way to the majors and stayed with it despite being taken off the 40-man roster in 2011. As Joe Meehan said, Jackie Bradley Jr. is probably the player who is going down when the time comes no matter what he does. Daniel Nava though, despite all of last year’s consistent play and presence on the roster all season in 2013, still has one minor league option remaining. He can be sent down to the minors without any team having the chance to claim him.

By almost any statistic, Daniel Nava has been terrible in 2014. One bright spot is that he has already hit two home runs this season. While he hit 12 homers last year, only two of them came after June 18, so there has to be concern that he is streaky power-wise. His play at first base, from last year to this year, has been decent for someone still learning the position, but he lacks the experience of Mike Carp, and certainly lacks the ability of Mike Napoli. He could not come up with a throw Wednesday night that led to a run.

Two other factors can be considered when deciding who to send down. Nava’s first base skills could use some improvement if they want to plug him in at first base more as the season wears on. He could get those kind of reps at Pawtucket. Though one can argue he has only had 58 plate appearances coming into tonight, that is still one-tenth of the season and the Red Sox need offense right now. Maybe he could get himself going down at Pawtucket. It seemed to help the slow starts of Bradley and Will Middlebrooks as their hitting improved when they were called back up.

Though Bradley looks like the obvious choice, his continued consistent play on both sides of the ball could make the Red Sox look at Daniel Nava to solve their roster crunch.